Like zonkeys, cronuts, and cockapoo puppies, we are painfully aware of how our can’t-quite-put-my-finger-on-it allure can make us outwardly appear to be about 80% more interesting in your imagination than we are in reality. While our ethnic ambiguity excites you, it is fairly boring for us. It may feel like you’re attempting to engage us by being verbose about your enthusiasm, but more often than not it will only serve to alienate us all the way into a cab home where we will never ever call you again.
Here is a brief field guide to bringing your a-game without being an a-hole. May the odds be ever in your favor.
1) For the love of all that is good in this world, do not ask us where we’re from.
I went out for a round of birthday drinks for a friend when this exchange happened in Williamsburg.
“Where are you from?”
“But like, specifically. Where are you from?”
“Bridgewater, New Jersey.”
“You know what I mean. Before that.”
“New Brunswick, New Jersey.”
And this, well meaning dudes of bars across America, is where I will decide to never sleep with you.
Though to be fair, this is not an outrageous question if already brought up naturally in conversation (if I say something like, “My dad moved to Brooklyn when he came to America,”) or out of genuine curiosity (we’re eating Mediterranean food and you see me shove dainty fistfuls of raw lamb meat in my mouth), but otherwise, it’s best this topic is not broached.
More frequently than men ask me what my name is they will ask me where I’m from. Fairly harmless in nature, this question is the single most triggering question that you could possibly ask. The “where are you from?” primer almost always has ulterior motives, none of which I’m OK with. This informational exchange to code and classify a new exotic creature makes me feel like a Pokémon, which will either play directly into a fetish of yours or will be followed up by a statement like, “Oh, you should talk to my boy, Brian. He loves Indian chicks.”
2) You don’t get post racial good-boy cred for finding us attractive.
I will not stamp your dick’s passport. Being shouldered with the historical narrative of your culture in a pick-up scenario is an exhausting experience for anyone who’s endured it. Any affection exchanged between us will not undo that unfortunate bit of the early 2000’s where you were Islamophobic and I am not here to act out the part where your circumcised penis in my Gaza Strip magically heals the conflict in the Middle East. It’s just not that easy. Personally, I am tired of reminding Columbus that he’s salivating over a prospect he thinks he’s the first to discover, when it’s something that already existed long before he got there.
3a) Do not attempt to 1-up us at our own culture.
I order the same thing every time at Indian restaurants and I regularly fumble with chopsticks. I know that theocratic dictators suck. It’s impossible to keep up with and I am not an ambassador, politically informed liberal arts educated dudes of America. It is not my personal responsibility to be a walking news ticker, so stop burying me in factoids you expect me to have a point of view on.
3b) Do not attempt to 1-up us at our shared culture.
If we happen to have common ancestry, don’t shame my parents for not sending me to Chinese school and I won’t shame your parents for giving birth to a bag of dicks. Deal?
4) You are not “down” enough for that punch line.
It’s not funny when you say that I can clean the kitchen because I’m the party’s token Mexican: I’m not Mexican, that’s not the point, and you’re disgusting. Leave the jokes to me. You can take a breather, slugger.
5) Do not predicate _________________ on our brownness.
One time, a guy asked me to dance and I declined, “Y’know, I don’t really dance. I’m not a big dancer.”
He said, verbatim, “You seem like you’d be really good at dancing…you know…because of your skin.”
No, good sir of North Hollywood, the natural grace you’re referring to is only bestowed upon me by my third whiskey cocktail, not my parents. I actually do dance, I love dancing, I just don’t want to dance with you because you’re an awful racist. As it turns out, interests and aptitudes in humans develop independently of race, creed, and color, you pond scum.
6) Be patient with us.
Being a person of a mixed background comes with the caveat that every relationship I have will be interracial to some degree. We fear every new partner’s porn search bar and wonder if their attraction is a reflection of a fetish or one of genuine interest and desire. We’ve been shown off like exotic pets and presented like show ponies for our blended features we’ve inherited, told to recite words in foreign languages we swipe from Google Translate for a cheap party trick. These moments have burned us. If you want to be with us, please be patient while we learn to trust you again and we will return the favor in kind.